Friday, August 24, 2007

Kiruv for non-Jews with Jewish Identity II

I am raising an issue of great importance for the future of the Jewish people. There seems to have been a major revolution in the last few years in the approach to dealing with both intermarriage and the non-Jewish children of intermarriage - and yet very few rabbonim seem aware of it. My purpose in writing the following is to provide intelligent discussion of these issues as well as to establish a literature that can be utilized by others. As Rav Sternbuch has noted - halacha depends upon accurate written discussions of issues that can be analyzed and debated. A statement by a rav - no matter how big - which doesn't provide the critical issue of context and sources is very problematic for use by others.

The issue was raised one Shabbos when I received some guests sent by a well known kiruv organization. In the course of discussing how each one of our guests had come to be interested in this particular program - the guest who was most interested in Yiddishkeit stated. "I was raised as a Methodist because my mother is a Methodist - but I am Jewish because my father is Jewish." To put it mildly I was shocked - how could this obvious fact not have been checked prior to admitting this young man into the program. The program is involved in bringing Jews with no Jewish education to Israel where there have a great time - and also learn about Yiddishkeit. The expenses of the participants are heavily subsidized by wealthy benefactors. I said nothing but after Shabbos I called the director to inform him of the problem. His response was, "We know that he is not Jewish but we were told to accept him since he has a Jewish identity."

In the subsequent months I have mentioned this to various rabbonim - who have all expressed shock that this is officially sanctioned. No one knew any teshuvos written on the subject which justify this approach. However I have found that this is not simply a quirk with one kiruv organization - it represents a major conflict between different kiruv organizations. The big money seems to be going in the direction of kiruv for non-Jews (with some kind of Jewish identity) with the hope of converting them. A friend of mine told me that on three separate occasions he was sent guests for Shabbos from a Russian kiruv program here in Jerusalem and found out that they were all non-Jews. When he complained, the program simply stopped sending him guests.

Similarly there has been a major effort to actively pursue intermarried couples and using various techniques - representive of the best American marketing techniques - convince the non-Jewish spouse to convert. This latter approach is spearheaded by R' Leib Tropper of Yeshiva Kol Yaakov in Monsey. See his website [Eternal Jewish Family - Convert to Judaism, Jewish Conversion, Universally Accepted Halachic Conversions for Intermarried Couples ] - especially the videos of testimonials from satisfied customers. It has the official backing of Rav Eliyashiv, Rav Dovid Feinstein, Rav Reuven Feinstein as well as many others important rabbis. I have not been able to locate any written teshuvos dealing with this either - even though it also represents a major change in the traditional approach to this issue.

I mentioned this information to Rav Moshe Sternbuch who found my revelations disturbing and he wrote a letter which he asked me to translate and distribute. He personally read and approved the translation. The original letter and its translation can be found at the following links.

http://www.aishdas.org/avodah/faxes/RSternbuch_KiruvNonJew_Aug07_heb.pdf
http://www.aishdas.org/avodah/faxes/RSternbuch_KiruvNonJew_Aug07_eng.pdf

Some of the discussion aroused already can be found at the following link

http://rabbisedley.blogspot.com/2007/08/kiruv-for-non-jews.html
http://haemtza.blogspot.com/2007/08/patrilineal-descent-and-conversion.html

One of the assertions being made is that Rav Moshe Feinstein has approved kiruv for non-Jews who have a Jewish identify. This assertion has been made by one of America's most widely respected poskim who was a very close talmid of Rav Moshe who said it was an oral psak that he received. I have combed the Igros Moshe and there is no support for this in the Igros Moshe. However recently I was challenged by a certain rosh yeshiva who asserted that what the hetar for this type of kiruv is inherent in the clearly stated teshuva of Reb Moshe regarding the Falashas. I rechecked this teshuva and - contrary to my challenger - it seems clear that this teshuva not only does not support this assertion but seems to directly contradict it. My translation of the teshuva is as follows:

Igros Moshe Y.D. IV. #41 page 271

After much investigation it appears that if the Falashas are not
given a Jewish education they will deteriorate even more and will
refuse to convert and this can possibly cause – G‑d forbid!
–intermarriage between Jews and the Falashas. Therefore l’maaseh
they should be given a Jewish education and be influenced through
this education to convert as they need to do - as I have written to
your brother R’ Mordechai Tendler. One should not be concerned by
the fact that we are teaching Torah to people whose status as Jews
is in doubt. Since it is actually possible that they are Jews and
since there is a reason for this education - it would appear there
is no prohibition to teach them Torah. But you should not teach them
false halachos - an act which itself is prohibited. In other words,
don’t tell them that we in fact view them as definitely Jewish.
Instead tell them that while in fact there is a doubt about their
status as Jews nevertheless we are prepared to educate them in G‑d’s
Torah and His mitzvos. Please note that until they are actually
converted they are not to be considered as definitely Jewish even in
regards to counting them as part of a minyan or to receive an aliya
to the Torah. They are not to be shamed or embarrassed but on the
other hand they should not be deceived with false flattery. On the
other hand l’chumra they are required to keep all the mitzvos
because maybe they are in fact genuine Jews.


Reb Moshe is acknowledging the danger of intermarriage from a non-Jew who views himself as Jewish. However he allows the teaching of Torah only because the person is a "questionable Jew". It follows that if the person is definitely not Jewish he would not have given this heter. Otherwise Reb Moshe would have simply said "any non-Jew who has a Jewish identity should be educated in Torah and converted".


Daniel Eidensohn

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Changing entrenched attitudes


Yirmiahu wrote:

Recently, Rabbi Daniel Eidensohn mentioned that he was interesting in exploring “how to actually change entrenched attitudes which have no halachic basis.” As it turns out I had recently been skimming a book from fifty or sixty years ago on Public Relations, called “Public Relations”* which addressed this issue (albeit without direct reference to ideas without halachic basis).

Public Opinion is not a mere collection of individual opinions. It has its own dynamic which should be taken into account if one hopes to be an influence. While we are interested in how these principles are applicable to a specific sociological group, we should bear in mind that they apply generally as well. Indeed as individuals these principles likely factor into our opinion making more than we would like to imagine, and almost certainly factor into how many who share our opinions reached their conclusion. Hopefully such a recognition will help us consider the role of these principles in Public Opinion without developing a spirit of condescension.

Initially we need to consider what we mean by “public”, “A public is comprised of people who are engaged in a common enterprise with similar interests and are conscious of their mutual dependence” (page 26). Public Opinion is the position taken on a controversial issue by the public. In any given public there are members of various education, aptitude, and temperament. At times Public Opinion is driven by the higher, more reasoned opinions of the knowledgeable and educated. But even the knowledgeable and educated can be swayed by emotion or otherwise make poor judgments, and as a result direct Public Opinion, or allow it to be directed by those less equipped to make such decisions, in a less well thought out direction.

Now people display certain patterns of thought and behavior with respect to the “public” they identify with which influences how “Public Opinion” is developed:

Identification: The group becomes an extension of one’s self. One’s willingness to “take one for the team” can extend to subjugating one’s own opinion in favor of the collective opinion.

Conformity: It is easier to go with the flow. On a more charitable note, not everyone is a born leader. Going against the tide can require more confidence in one’s conclusion, and ability, than many people have.

Anonymity: It seems to me that this is a bit of the reverse of the prior example. In some instances individuals who would otherwise be unwilling to voice their opinion are able to make their views heard via the group, sparing themselves personal scrutiny.

Sympathy: Members of a group take what happens to each other personally. While in many different contexts this tendency has been noted and criticized as a limitation on who we care about, it is in fact more of an extension. Especially in the era of mass communication we hear about more misfortune than anyone can handle. To take it all personally could emotionally crush a person. Personally, it is not unheard of for a news story to put me in tears, but such stories typically involve Yidden, or children (appealing to my identity as a “parent”). The tsunami in the South Pacific a few years back was very difficult emotionally even without any personal connection, but to react to each and every case is such a manner would be crippling. I’m inclined to believe that our natural tendency is to close ourselves off to such unpleasant emotions but our group identity allows us make ourselves vulnerable to experience empathy and compassion in some cases.

Emotionalism: Group opinion is seldom the result of detached and calculated logic, but the extent to which emotion drives the discussion varies. An issue which effects the communities lifestyle, health, parnassa, or safety are going to be more emotionally charged than peripheral issues.

Nobility: Public Opinion means that one’s positions are going to be known and shared so one is going to [tend to] put their best foot forward. Opinions will be influenced by the higher values which they share. I would add, however, that consciously or not, less noble intents will likewise be channeled into a more “noble” presentation.

Oppression: The work Public Relations writes “Oppression is a common delusion” (page 36) but I think that many or most of us would recognize that it is not uncommon for a group, a public, to have been treated unfairly. Mainstream society, particularly in the information age, tends to have a short attention span on such mistreatment, even when mainstream society is itself the subject of mistreatment. Other, “minority” communities do not tend to forget so quickly. This has a very real impact on Public Opinion and must be taken into consideration. I should note that while this consciousness of past wrongs may make it difficult for a community to adapt to new realities, the lack of such consciousness tends to make mainstream society complacent and unwilling to safeguard against further assault.

Symbolism: Symbols are employed to represent values and ideals of the group, or to represent the opposition against which the group struggles.

Rationalization: As we noted earlier with respect to nobility, at times reasons are given for taking a particular position which serve as a smoke screen to hide ulterior motives.

The goal of Public Relations, as opposed to mere propaganda, is to inform the public on a given topic so that they have the ability to make a better decision. We can safely assume that not every individual will ultimately be persuaded by proper evidence, but we have to trust that most people will be inclined to make better decisions if given the chance. Additionally, certain people are “opinion leaders” on certain issues. These individuals are not identified by their position or title, but one can expect to find them involved in activities which promote the welfare of others. Reaching such people with the appropriate information is a significant component of influencing public opinion.

While we have always had our ups and downs, it seems to me that the last few years has been a difficult period for the frum world, with what seems to me to be an large increase in members of our community making headlines for things we may not be proud of. Often we hear of calls for “moderation” but this is, effectively, equivalent to calling for less motivation. I do not think that this is the correct, or desirable approach. If, or rather Since, we are correct in asserting that the ways of Torah are “Darchei Noam” then we need work on publicizing relevant Torah material which will make it easier for Yidden to come to appropriate conclusions, and more difficult for people to rationalize positions which are in fact not based in halachah. And we should, at least now and then, go out of our comfort zone and challenge popular misconceptions with halachic sources. And the effort to get our own “Public Opinion” in check is the most significant hishtadlus to influence the “Public Opinion” of the outside world.

*Public Relations: Principles, Cases, and Problems, 3rd Edition, Bertrand R. Canfield, 1952, 1961

Abuse - reporting exempts from responsibility?


R' Pinchos Yehoshua HaKohain wrote:

Dear Rabbi Eidensohn,

I would like to follow up on some Shakla v'Tarya from 13 July. (It is copied below). I would like to present 3 points:
1) Shomer SheMosar L'Shomer is not applicable here.
2) It is a case of Hashovas Aveida
3) What are the parameters of Hashovas Aveida and how they would apply in our context.


1) Shomer SheMosar LeShomer would not seem to be applicable here.

Either according to Abaye, that the reasoning is because "Ain Reztoni SheYehe Pikdoni b'Yad Acher" or whether according to Rovo that it is because of "At M'Hemnis Li b'Shevuoh, v'Haich Lo M'Hemnis Li", b oth reasons see that the underlying principle is a contractual agreement (a shibud) that binds the shomer, because of the contract undertaken, with the owner of the property. In our situation there has occurred no contractual arrangement between the victim and his erstwhile rescuer/interventionist.
Whether there is an Isur aspect of "Osur L'Shomer Limsor l'Shomer" is discussed in the Acharonim - please see Aruch haShulchon 291:45,46 and Pischei Choshen vol 2, 4:1:1). B ut even if there is an Isur aspect, it flows from being "Maavir Al Daas Baalim" - a Gezel/Gneiva parameter which would not be applicable in our scenario in a strictly Halocho legal sense. (Musar/ethical/moral considerations need to be considered separately)

The following sources and analysis, I believe,support this position:

the position of the Rav Shulchon Aruch(Hilchos Aveida uPikadon #32 quoted by Pischei Choshen, Aveida 6:4) and Halacha Berura 5:12 (lost & found II, between footnote #7&8), both hold that Aveida in all circumstances has no restriction of Osur l'Shomer LiMsor l'Shomer; The reasoning of Rav Shulchon Aruch is, "Hashem made him a shomer; NOT the Baalim"
The source for the Rav Shulchon Aruch is most probably the Rashbo (Teshuvos Vol 4 #254 quoted in Bais Yosef CM 235 immediately preceding note #10 of Darchei Moshe). The Rashbo clearly states the principle that obligations of Hashovas Aveida operate independently of Dinei Shomer. Rav Shulchon Aruch based on the 2 principles in Hashovas Aveida of 1) Mishtamer (discussed below) and 2) no necessity of Daas Baalim, extends this to mean that another trustworthy person can take over as Shomer.

The Machne Efraim (Shomrim #14, also quoted by Pischei Choshen) understands and applies this Rashbo even in a case where there is an actual cheftzo and chiyuv tashlumin is in question. He holds that a scenario is possible that 1) I could have your object in my jurisdiction, 2) I am, nevertheless, totally exempt from any Shomer responsibility but 3) nevertheless Hashovas Aveida requires me to keep it "Mishtamer".

One could conjecture that by extension, It would appear that Machne Efraim, a fortiori, concurs with Rav Shulchon Aruch that the Aveida object could be transferred to another Shomer; but after reflection we realize that the 2 opinions are not interwoven. Indeed in the unique scenario of the Machne Efraim he would hold that there is no chiyuvei shomer and consequently it could also be transferred to another shomer but that does not necessarily means that he would agree in all other cases with the Rav Shulchon Aruch's chidush.

The only thing we can definitely extract from the Machne Efraim's position is that he is in agreement with the Rashbo's principle that obligations of Hashovas Aveida operate independently of Dinei Shomer.

Likewise the Rav Shulchon Aruch does not agree with the Machne Efraim. Even though he holds that another Shomer can be appointed in the finder's stead, he does not agree to exemptions from other chiyuvei Shomer. This I believe is apparent from his formulation of Halocho in Hilchos Aveida uPikadon # 29

The Nesivos CM 291:3 strongly disagrees with the whole premise of the Machne Efraim. He maintains that it is absurd to posit that your object is in my jurisdiction and concomitantly there are no Chiyuvei Shmira -ie every object Aveida situation ipso facto also incurs shomrim obligations. It would appear that the Nesivos not only disagrees with the Machne Efraim but even with the Rav Shulchon Aruch as well for the same reason. (Hoewever, The Raayos that the Nesivos adduces from the Yerushalmi and Maharit are neutralized by the refutations proffered by the Machne Efraim and ShuT Ein Yitzchok (EE #78 anaf 2)

Nevertheless, I believe that in a scenario of Hashovas Aveida that does not pertain to a cheftzo but is only a Chiyuv m'Gavra l'Chaveiro that the Nesivos will agree to the premise of the Rashbo that obligations of Hashovas Aveida can be operative even though there are no Dinei Shomer. I assert this based on the discussion of the Nesivos himself, in regards to how the Mitzvo obligation interplays with the Chiyuvei Shmira insofar as to whether the Pruta d'Rav Yosef applies to modify the status re: Shomer Chinum or Shomer Sochor. I believe this indicates that even according to the Nesivos the Mitzvo is operating independently, just superimposed upon the Shomer Cheftzo platform.

In summary:

Rashbo -obligations of Hashovas Aveida operate independently of Dinei Shomer.
Rav Shulchon Aruch - by all Aveidos there is no restriction of Shomer SheMosar l'Shomer.
Machne Efraim - Rashbo's principle exempts, in certain scenarios, even Chiyuvei Tashlumin of an erstwhile Shomer.
Nesivos: - Disagrees with Machne Efraim in scenario where there is an actual Cheftzo.
- States no opinion re: Rav Shulchon Aruch's Chidush
- No opinion stated in regards to Hashovas Aveida sans Cheftzo

Conclusion:
in a scenario of Hashovas Aveida that does not pertain to a cheftzo but is only a Chiyuv m'Gavra l'Chaveiro;that obligations of Hashovas Aveida operate even though there is no Shomer and no Dinei Shomer

2) It is a case of Hashovas Aveida
while indeed the Gemoro Sanhedrin 73a, on its own, would seem to be inconclusive as to whether according toits Maskono rescuing from danger still falls under Hashovas Aveida or not, we could entertain

3 approaches:
A - that the whole Mitzvo and obligation derives from Lo Saamod alone
B - that the basic Mitzvo derives from Hashovas Aveida. just certain aspects and details that intensify and magnify the obligation are derived from Lo Saamod
C - both pesukim are necessary; neither one has a greater intrinsic revelation over the other, but m'Yitura d'Kro. (This 3rd approach is nevertheless still consistent with the premise that Hashovas Aveida is still operable)

It appears to me that the overwhelming majority of Rishonim and Poskim accept the second approach:
1) Ramban in Toras ho'Odom (quoted anonymously almost verbatim by Tur YD 336)
2) Tur YD 336
3) Ritvo (in Chidushim) Yevomos 106a
4) Nemukei Yosef ibid quotes Ritvo and doesn't dispute
5) Meiri (Sanhedrin) hashovas aveida is the minimum obligation and Hashovas Gufo is Kal voChomer from Momono.
6) Sm''a CM 426:1
7) Chochmas Shlomo 426
8) Shulchon Aruch YD 336 seif 2&3 - the underlying principle is V'Hasheivoso not Lo Saamod. see Shach, Taz & Gro #7&12
9) Ran in Chidushei Sanhedrin ibid -(both pesukim are necessary; neither one has intrinsic revelation over other and m'Yitura d'Kro. (This is the 3rd approach mentioned above. as mentioned above, it is nevertheless consistent with the premise that Hashovas Aveida is still operable)

the raaya that I had tersely alluded to in my email of 5 weeks ago, is the fact that concerning Nedorim, the Mishna (halacho) permits, in a madir/mudar situation, to nevertheless administer Refuah as long as there is no external benefit other than that of providing the refuah itself. The Rambam and Bartenura, both adduce v'Hashevosa as the source - not Lo Saamod. The Tosfos Yomtov's reticence would also indicate that he is in agreement. ( granted that other Rishonim give a different reason for the Heter for refuah to be administered, but that's because a more basic more global Sevoro is available - not that they dispute the principle of the Rambam & Bartenura)

The Minchas Chinuch (Mitzvas Lo Saamod) draws attention to the astounding oddity, that in spite of the above quoted Rambam in Pirush HaMishnayos, nowhere in Yad HaChazoko does he bring Aveidas Gufo to be subsumed under Hashovas Aveida!!
We, on our own, might even add that Rambam's complete reticence in this regard in Rotzeach 1:7-end ;(especially #15) would seem, Stama k'Pirusho, that he retracted from his position in Pirush HaMishnayos and concludes with approach #1 above
Be that as it may, e ven if we take into account the ambiguity of the Rambam's position, we cannot determine more than a Sofeik as to what his final opinion is.

Therefore,whereas the overwhelming majority of Rishonim quoted above quite definitively state that Hashovas Gufo is subsumed under Hashovas Aveida; In the final analysis, it would appear to me that the normative Halocho is that indeed we are dealing with Hashovas Aveida.


3) What are the parameters of Hashovas Aveida and how they would apply in our context.

now to return to your original question: "When I discover a case of abuse and report this information to a rabbi or the police - am I free from future obligation? Or should I view that I have merely delegated the task to another but that the primarily responsibility remains with me."

as discussed above, the obligation of Hashovas Aveida differs in many details to those of Hashovas Gzeila/Gneiva and Shomrim. The pertinent detail that most pertains to our discussion is that the finder needs to restore it to a location where it is ''Mishtamer'' (CM 267:1,2). the concept of ''Mishtamer'' is probably best translated/interpreted by the word ''secured'' as in ''the house has been secured'' or "security services''which means protected and safe.this means that unless the Aveida is secured, ie that it is protected and safeguarded, the finder/discoverer has not fulfilled his obligation of v'Hasheivoso. Stating this in the reverse, if the finder should ''return' the Aveida to a place that is NOT ''mishtamer'' he has not discharged his obligation properly and is fully responsible as a Posheah for any mishap (lost, damage or stolen) that may occur.

a second detail of Hashovas Aveida that also would be germane to our discussion is the following: even if he returns the Aveida to a location that is indeed Mishtamer and thereby fulfilled his obligation, if, however, it should escape again from that mokom mishtamer, and the jeopardy of losing it recurs, the finder is once again obligated to retrieve and return it; and this is true even if reoccurs many times (''even a hundred times'')

Translating these details of obligation into our scenario of abuse, I believe that reporting the abuse to the police or Rabbi, would exempt the reporter from further obligation only if the reporting would reestablish full security (eg safety) for the victim(s). If the involvement and oversight of these or any other authority or person would restore safety, then indeed the responsibility and obligation would pass to the new "Shomer" completely and the first party would be totally exempt from further involvement.

Unfortunately, however, in our present milieu, in most cases, this hardly occurs. In most instances a report even to the police at most only initiates an investigation, (and I dare say that to a Rav the results are even more disheartening) but the abuse goes on unabated or even intensifies.

Even if the abuse would cease for a period of time after the report; if it should begin again, the initial report would not exempt the discovery of its reoccurrence from further reporting.

therefore in summary, the original responsibility remains in place on the original discoverer until the safety of the victim is assured.

Please note that Rashi's language, quoted on your blog, that seems to derive from Lo Saamod that you are still obligated even after "passing the baton" and others are acting on your behalf, I believe is inconclusive. Even though it would dovetail nicely with my presentation above, I believe that the thrust of Rashi is different. I believe that Rashi (like Meiri and Ran cited above) is bothered by the following question,"where do you see from this posuk more dimensions of obligation than from v'Hasheivosa Lo" Rashi proceeds to demonstrate this from the language of the posuk itself. But Rashi does not mean to offer any comment on whether your obligation continues even after the appointment of qualified others.


Sincerely,

R' Pinchos Yehoshua HaKohain

Friday, August 10, 2007

Rav Moshe Sternbuch - Authorized Translation

A number of months ago, I had been asked to host a young man for Shabbos by a kiruv organization. During the Shabbos meal he expressed great interest in everything Jewish. When I asked him about his background, he mentioned that even though he had been raised as a non‑Jew by his non‑Jewish mother - but since his father was Jewish he knew he was Jewish. I was shocked by the revelation but said nothing to the young man. After Shabbos I asked the director of the program why he had sent me a non‑Jew for Shabbos? He replied that he had received a halachic ruling from an American rav who allowed participation of a non‑Jew – who viewed himself as Jewish. This was so even though the program had a mixture of boys and girls and there was a danger of intermarriage of the participants. I have since found out that this is not an isolated incident but in fact reflects the decision by certain individuals in kiruv to proselytize those who have a Jewish father. I mentioned this information to Rav Moshe Sternbuch. After gathering information from other sources, he wrote the following psak which he requested me to translate and disseminate. Daniel Eidensohn

HaRav Moshe Sternbuch shlita

Kiruv for someone with a Jewish father and a non‑Jewish mother

You ask what are the guidelines for kiruv programs - that encourage Jews to fully observe the Torah - which take place in religious schools or organized events. In particular should a person who is not halachically Jewish - because his mother is not Jewish but his father is - be encouraged or even allowed to participate? I have heard that there are rabbis who not only permit it but even encourage it, They assert that especially those people who already view themselves as Jewish – even though they are mistaken - should be encouraged to participate because they might eventually convert.

My view is that it is absolutely forbidden to try to proselytize a non‑Jew even if he mistakenly views himself as Jewish. One obvious reason is that such an approach actually encourages intermarriage. If people with only a Jewish father are encouraged to participate in Jewish educational events it will convey the message that in some sense they are actually Jewish. That is because it is commonly accepted that only Jews are allowed to participate in these events. Thus this innovation crosses the red lines that have always been accepted by Torah true Jews. Typically the intermarried couple does not realize that they are constantly transgressing prohibitions which carry the punishment of kares [Rambam Hilchos Issurei Bi’ah 12:6]. But at least they need to be aware that intermarriage cuts them off completely from the Jewish people. If we allow and even encourage their non‑Jewish offspring to participate in Jewish educational events, they will feel that they still have an intimate connection to the Jewish people – G‑d forbid!

Another basis of concern is that I see this as a violation of following non‑Jewish practices (chukas akum). These rabbis are showing mercy to the Jewish father by a de-facto acknowledgment of the non‑Jewish concept of patrilineal descent. According to the unanimously held Torah view - any person with a non‑Jewish mother is completely non‑Jewish. Also the gratuitous granting of Jewish status and benefits to this non‑Jewish child violates the Torah prohibition of Lo Techanem.

These rabbis also try to justify their innovation by claiming that it is a solution to the massive problem resulting from the intermarriage of Russian Jews. They assert that one should encourage the conversion of the child of a non‑Jewish mother because the Russian Jews intermarried because of the unfortunate circumstances under the Communists. Therefore they are to be regarded as innocent children who grew up in captivity (tinok shenishba). They feel it is appropriate to show special mercy on these unfortunate people. I agree that they should be shown special sensitivity and leniencies. However this is only when they have at least distanced themselves from their intermarried parents or have already indicated an interest in genuine conversion. However if the parents insist on continuing their intermarriage, there is no halachic basis to be sorry for them. The child in that case is a non‑Jew and will remain as such.

Concerning the specific case that you mentioned of a student whose father is Jewish but the mother is a non‑Jew. One of the kiruv programs wants to include him – even though he still lives with his parents. You mentioned that a number of American rabbis have given halachic rulings that his participation in the program should be encouraged because he might convert. Do not associate yourself with their programs. You will receive much greater reward by disassociating from them than the possible benefit that might result.

I am being deliberately brief in my comments here - even though there is clearly much more to mention. That is because the plague of intermarriage has already spread here to the Holy Land – the palace of the King. The Holy One Blessed be He should help us and quickly bring into actuality our Redemption. Eliyahu should come and purify our camp so that we are fit to receive the countenance of our righteous Moshiach.

Rav Moshe Sternbuch - Kiruv for non-Jews